Now that you know who we are, I will describe first how we came to sail on Dream, and then I will get into how we actually got to the ship, and then on with the cruise and our return to West Virginia.
Three years ago I read on Cruise Critic that Port Canaveral was the likely home port of Carnival Dream. I had viewed the 'Dream Video' that was circulating on YouTube and had downloaded it, saved it, sent it to friends and even posted it a time or two on some websites. I knew that the final product was likely to be quite different from the concept video, but I also knew that I had to be on that ship. I knew, also from reading on Cruise Critic, that when a ship is replaced by a new ship, the bookings on the former ship are often automatically transferred to the new ship so I called Carnival and booked a deck 6 aft wrap for 2010 even though the sailing was over three years away, I knew when our boys Spring Break would be, and I knew we'd be cruising somewhere so I took a chance and the chance paid off; our booking was automatically transferred from Glory 6483 to Carnival Dream 6479.
Then the construction pictures began coming in and most of the bells and whistles from the concept video had been deleted; the Lanai remained, and the waterslides were larger and more abundant, but nothing like the slides on the concept video. Gone also were the climbing mountain, monorail around the top of the ship, and the aft was sloped, but not divided by slides with a pool at the bottom. Even though she was being built quite a bit less flashy, I was still dreaming of our cruise on Carnival Dream.
Eventually she was launched for sea trials and pics of her completed started coming in and she appeared to be a fine ship; not really similar to the concept, but nice nonetheless. After the sea trials she was launched on her maiden voyage and almost immediately reports started coming in that the aft wraps were not wraps at all! The aft wraps had been relegated to nothing more than corner rooms with odd shaped balconies. It was a scarey thought to be an aft wrap lover and be booked on a ship with aft wraps that were nothing more than pricey cabins that only slept two. Sleeping only two was also an issue because the aft wraps on Conquest Class ships sleep three. Since we are a family of five, we need two cabins that area adjacent and sleep two in one and three in the other, and Dream didn't have anything on any deck that included an aft wrap and an adjacent balcony.
I was left with a bit of a problem; The cabin I had booked did not have the balcony I wanted and didn't sleep the number of people I needed it to sleep nor did any balcony adjacent or nearby. Luckily, reports came in via John Heald's blog and Cruise Critic members that Carnival was planning to fix the aft wrap fiasco by moving the balcony partitions. Further good news came in that the deck 6 aft wrap was still an aft wrap and was not a wannabe like had been feared. I was hoping they would fix the only two passenger issue, but they did not so we had to book three of us in a balcony down the hall that slept three.
Over the course of the three year wait, we were granted Future Cruise credit since our price had not changed, then Early Saver was established and we were allowed to switch to that program without any hassles. ES proved to be futile for the aft wrap, but by the time we sailed we had $550 OBC from price adjustments on the down the hall balcony cabin. Gotta luv ES! We also recieved Stockholders credit for owning Carnival Corp stock. All OBC combined totalled $950. I would like to say that covered our S&S bill, but I would be telling a lie and I will get to that point on the eve of our debarkation.
Cruise Critic members that were on board her for her first few sailings and the transatlantic really helped soothe concerns we had with our room; ZydecoCruiser posted thousands of pictures and pictures of our exact room and balcony which were and still are really beneficial to Carnival Dream future cruisers.
So we were finally all five booked and ready to go and then the reviews started coming in mentioning bad smells, bad crew members, and bad over crowding with endless lines. Many of the reviews were transparent activities of forum trolls, but some were irrefutable from reputable and trusted members of Cruise Critic. I have to confess that I had three other cruises picked out and thought about jumping ship before final payment, but we all know that a cruise is what you make of it and I believed we could make ourselves happy even if all reports proved accurate.
Luckily, as the time of our cruise drew closer, reports of problems started becoming less frequent. We have cruised several ships over Spring Break that were also in their first year and all of them had questionable reviews so we were finally able to relax and let time pass without worrying that we'd made a mistake.
In the weeks leading up to our cruise, our favorite college team was making a run for the national championship and the Final Four was to take place during our cruise. Duirng our last week before we sailed we learned we would be watching the WVU Mountaineers play in the Final Four semi final game on the Lido big screen! Other than Indianapolis, there could be no better place to watch your favorite team play than the Lido deck of a ship cruising the Caribbean! The excitment was building for something totally unrelated to cruising that was going to make our cruise experience unforgettable.
Now for the particulars on how we got there. My last day of work was eight days before our scheduled flight on March 31 from Charleston WV to Melbourn Florida. Basically I had eight days off to prepare for vacation! I would like to say I had everything ready, but pictures would tell on me so I will say that I did have our FunPasses printed, the boys passports renewed, the flights booked, the pre cruise hotel and pre cruise rental vehicle booked, and ideas of what to do for our three days in Florida before our cruise.
With Karen having packed out bags and everything else ready to go, we had to print out luggage tags. I know they say not to cut them, but we cut them to size and laminate them;
You can't really tell by this pic, but they are all laminated with heavy clear plastic;
A quick hole created by the hole punch that I carry in my laptop bag for our S&S cards and then they're ready to be securely attached to our bags with wire zip ties;
On March 31 we had five bags to check, plus two carry on bags and Britt managed to carry them all out and load them by himself;
Thirty minutes later we were unloading our bags at Charleston's Yeager Airport;
I had preprinted our boarding passes and prepaid the $23 per bag ransom so all we had to do was checkin and give them our luggage. The checkin kiosk is realy handy especially since they have three airline reps on hand to assist with the self assist kiosks....
Because of recent reports of delays at airport checkins due to new security procedures, we arrived at the recommended two hour time frame before our flight.....and we checked our bags, went through security and still had two hours to wait.
CLICK HERE for our cruise pics on my own site
CLICK HERE for our cruise pics on Flickr
CLICK HERE for our cruise pics on FOTKi
CLICK HERE for Breeze Cruise slideshow. Pics are hosted on my OWN site and should display properly
Pictures hosted on my own site and WILL display properly;
Carnival Pride Spring Break '14 Review
Pictures hosted on Flickr and should display properly;
Carnival Breeze 2013 8 day Southern Review
Pictures in these reviews are hosted at Fotki and should display properly;
Carnival Liberty 2012 Western Review
Carnival Liberty 2011 Eastern Review
WebShots Sux and sold out so NONE of the pictures in the reviews listed below will display;
CARNIVAL Dream Western Spring Break Review
CARNIVAL Liberty B2B Review
CARNIVAL Destiny B2B Review
CARNIVAL Legend Spring Break Review
CARNIVAL Freedom Eastern Spring Break Review
CARNIVAL Glory Eastern Spring Break Review
Carnival.com has a new appearance and some old links are not easily located. Log on to Carnival.com then CLICK HERE to view your previous cruises.
My advice is based on my personal experience and is biased by my opinion and personality. Feel free to take it or leave it, but don't plan on changing me. If you disagree, please bear in mind that I am content to be wrong in your opinion.